Rule of Few

The question of whether a direct democracy or specially trained experts (rule of few) provides a better method of governance is a complex issue because neither method is clearly wrong and it requires a thorough analysis of the positives and negatives of both methods to determine which method should be used.  Because a majority vote often results in biased and under-informed individuals voting purely in favor of their own interests, specially trained experts in various fields should safeguard the public good by making unbiased decisions for society regarding their various fields.   

            Thomas Hobbes, one of the greatest philosophers of the 17th Century, holds that the state possesses the right of absolute power over its citizens due to the social contract.  Hobbes argues that, because the citizens agree to give up certain rights in return for the protection of the state (social contract), they are completely bound to the laws of the state.  Because Hobbes describes the citizens as acquiescing to the laws instead of choosing them for themselves, he implies that there is a sovereign or some other form of executive power.  While Hobbes’ executive does not completely coincide with the concept of the rule of few, Hobbes implication of the executive imparts the idea that Hobbes, in general, would support a centralized and consolidated government, which is the form that the rule of few takes.  One may argue, “Well, what if the government is corrupt and only exploits the people instead of helping them?”  To this question, John Locke provides an answer.  John Locke was an Englishman, another great 17th Century philosopher whose thoughts and writings were a powerful influence on America’s Founding Fathers and on the documents at the root of the United States.  Regarding unjust executives and laws, Locke provides the citizens recourse for challenging the established power.  John Locke’s philosophy utilizes the logic that an unjust law is not a law at all and need not be followed.  Assume that a decree issued by an executive is unjust (which means the executive is also unjust), according to Locke’s logic and philosophy, the law and executive need no longer be observed and the executive may be removed from office.  In the case of the rule of few, Locke’s philosophy would allow the citizens to remove unjust experts, in this way the rule by few would be good for a society because the people would not be hopelessly enslaving themselves to an elite few.  There are other practical reasons for establishing the rule by few.  In the rule of few, small groups of experts make major decisions for the society.  In many situations this is much more beneficial to society than a direct vote because the small group of experts is much better informed than the average citizen and can thus make a better decision regarding what is optimal for the society as a whole.  If the decision were left up to a majority rule, sectional tensions and rivalries would make almost any decision made by the unbridled majority extremely ineffective.                

            It is a challenge to decide whether the majority rule or the rule of few is more beneficial to society.  According to Locke however, the recourse made available to members of a state as well as the many natural superiorities the rule of few has over the rule of majority tips the balance in favor of the rule of few.  The rule of a small group of experts is vastly more beneficial to society than the majority rule is.                              

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